The Story of Charlotte's Web: E.B. White's Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic - Michael Sims Biographies can be quite cut-and-dry and boring and read like a book of facts and figures rather than an intimate portrait. With The Story of Charlotte’s Web, it felt like I was reading a work of fiction filled with beautiful descriptive passages and an inviting, warm tone. I really liked Michael Sims’ writing and am interested in reading more by him now. He pulled me into the story and I kept getting lost in White’s world. Sims takes the reader on a journey from E. B. White’s beginnings as an awkward, curious boy named Elwyn who was fascinated but terrified of girls, and who found comfort and stability in the animals of his family’s barn. White grows up to be a still slightly self-conscious but much more confident man nicknamed Andy with a flourishing writing career and a loving family. Throughout his life, he is always noticing and musing over animals everywhere he goes, even in the busy streets of New York City where pigeons assemble on sidewalks to preen and squabble. I really liked this quote from White:
New York is part of the natural world. I love the city, I love the country, and for the same reasons. The city is part of the country . . . People are animals, and the city is full of people in strange plumage, defending their territorial rights, digging for their supper.

Sims’ extensive research is obvious in his detailed descriptions of all the locations where White lives at different stages of his life. You can practically see and smell the barns where White loved to spend the majority of his time. Sims also includes quotes and excerpts from various newspapers, magazines, and books that White submitted and sometimes got published, as well as incidents and anecdotes from his abundant journals and notes. There are several black-and-white photos of Elwyn’s boyhood home (which is gorgeous) in addition to his and his wife’s Katharine’s family home in Maine. More pictures would’ve been nice, especially of Elwyn as a boy and teenager, but I guess the one of the cover is sufficient (it’s very cute – you gotta love those ears). I learned a lot about E. B. White that I had never known. I had no idea his family was so well off and that he lived such a privileged and comfortable life; he always had at least a couple of servants around the house, even in the middle of the Depression. Another tidbit is that [book: Stuart Little] was inspired by a dream White had about a mousy little boy, and it took him six years before he finally wrote it down as stories for his nieces and nephews and then allowed it to be sold as a book. It was exciting reading how [book: Charlotte’s Web] took form – the way Sims describes White researching and pulling information together, it’s like he was weaving his own little web. It makes sense now that he would write so much and so lovingly about animals because he had a plethora of pets his whole life (domestic and otherwise). They made sense to him, and in times of confusion or unhappiness, they were always there for him. If you’ve ever read Charlotte’s Web and treasured it, you’ll almost certainly take pleasure in this inside look at E. B. White and his masterpiece.